STARKVILLE, Miss. – Road wins are never an easy proposition, but this one was particularly ugly.
No. 13 Tennessee overcame 19 turnovers and shot only 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field, but still managed to beat Mississippi State 57-41 on Thursday night.
"We didn't get a lot of transition looks because we were turning the ball over," Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick said. "If we learned anything it's that we've got to take care of the ball more."
Shekinna Stricklen scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Lady Vols (19-7, 10-3 Southeastern Conference). Stricklen was 8-for-18 from the field and 5 of 6 from the free-throw line after a slow start.
"I didn't have my composure," Stricklen said. "I was rushing and playing at a fast pace, not my own pace. My teammates really helped me get it back under control."
The win pulls Tennessee even with No. 7 Kentucky atop the SEC standings after the Wildcats' loss tonight to Alabama.
Tennessee has won three of its last four games and five of its last seven.
Cierra Burdick added 10 points and Glory Johnson grabbed 15 rebounds for Tennessee.
"It wasn't the prettiest game," Warlick said. "It was a grind for us and we found a way to win."
As poorly as Tennessee shot, Mississippi State (14-12, 4-9) shot even worse.
The Bulldogs shot only 24.2 percent (16 of 66) from the floor and trailed by double digits the entire second half.
"We forced enough turnovers and I felt like we really scrapped," Mississippi State coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "But we missed some shots and you have to rebound the ball defensively. You've got to get some put-backs and some and-ones, and we're just not there yet."
The Bulldogs are now 0-33 all-time versus the Lady Vols.
"Our defense played hard enough for us to win the ballgame," Fanning-Otis said. "They have awfully good athletes, with great size, at all positions."
Both teams struggled to find offense, starting the game a combined 1-of-21 from the floor. The Lady Vols led 22-13 at the half.
"We played rushed," Warlick said. "Once we settled down and got into a rhythm I thought we did well."
Kendra Grant scored a career-high 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting to lead Mississippi State and Porsha Porter added 15 points.
Diamber Johnson, Mississippi State's leading scorer this season, finished with three points on 1-of-15 shooting.
"Tennessee's always been known as the top team in the SEC, but tonight they escaped with a win," Johnson said. "They hit shots and we didn't, but I think this proves that we are a good team."